Movie Review: Hercules
Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell, John Hurt, Rebecca Ferguson, Askel Hennie, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Reece Ritchie, Joseph Fiennes
Rated PG-13 for for epic battle sequences, violence, suggestive comments, brief strong language and partial nudity, Running time 98 minutes, Action/Adventure
Compare to: Clash of the Titans (2010), 300: Rise of an Empire (2014)
Placing Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (I never know what to call him anymore) in a film is similar to placing Arnold Schwarzenegger in a role; no matter what the script originally called for, however simple or complex the character was meant to be, it’s now The Rock. He hardly changes from film to film, which is to be taken however you feel about him to begin with.
So the strength of the film itself lies with Johnson’s performance and presence. He certainly looks the part of a demigod but the guts and grit it pretends to have is overcome with cliches in a desire to make something safe and formulaic. Unfortunately.
Based on Radical Comics’ limited run, Hercules follows the titular from his famed twelve labors to his training of the Thracian army. But is Hercules the man he’s seen to be or the demigod the legend claims he is? From soldiers to monsters, Hercules’ reputation as a legend is put to the test as he and his men attempt to complete his final labor.
It’s a funny feeling when you’re watching a film and the moment comes when you realize it’s not going to be the film you thought it was. While it shouldn’t have a negative impact on the quality of the film itself, it’s a bit disappointing to know that the famous “twelve labors” are going to be summed up in a montage and much of the film is going to be Hercules shyly smiling when he’s asked if he’s actually the son of big daddy Zeus.
It’s not that a film should be exactly what you think it’s going to be by description and trailers alone (See the next review for more on that), but to have a hero as significant as Hercules played by a personality as big as The Rock in a modern day action film and then shrink what he does down to your stereotypical solemn hero is a bit disheartening. This is the guy Leonidas of 300 descended from yet you get the feeling Gerard Butler’s Brogue Spartan king could take him on- what gives?
Still, it’d be a lie to say nobody here has got charisma. Everything the Rock does is done with a nod or a wink to the audience as if to say “What’s up, guys? Don’t I look cool?” I mean, come on, it’s the Rock, right? Ian McShane fills the role of the mysterious future seer, armed and ready with jokes and quips in the middle of some (mildly) epic battle, some of which actually are funny. Rufus Sewell’s role as Hercules’ right hand man is likable and seems to be the only one of their band of heroes that knows the movie he’s in
While it could be meant as suspense, boring is the word I would use to describe much of the movie as Herc and his small band of mercs train an army of farmers and the like. But the thing is, you don’t really care. It’s not that you’re bored to the point of giving up on the film, but we’re watching a movie that’s meant to be the movie equivalent of an experienced soldier grabbing a dusty spear from the chest of a fallen enemy and hurl it at the head of some despondent, tyrannical war lord. Instead, this movie could be compared to some guy who can’t properly make a fist and breaks his wrist upon impact.
Still, I’d give a sequel the time of day, provided the movie, not just the man himself, took some steroids.
Positives: The cast is good, some cool visuals, the movie is too short to be a bore, the credits animation actually tells more of the story
Negatives: Cliches abound, the movie has no guts, the right ingredients are held back on from actors to action.